World of Warcraft: Canon Bound


World of Warcraft (WoW) is a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game, or MMORPG by Blizzard Entertainment. It was released in 2004, and has since had three expansion packs, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, the current expansion. World of Warcraft is important, and should be considered for canonization for multiple reasons. Since 2004, WoW has taken the world by storm, it has revolutionized the MMORPG genre, and has significant gaming culture.

World of Warcraft is popular, amazing popular, so popular in fact that even people who really don’t play video games have heard of it. Now I can’t be sure that everyone’s criteria for canonization are the same as mine, but I would say that things like player-base should be a leading consideration. The reason I say this is simply because the number of people that play a game has a direct correlation to how many people will play it. If a game is bad, people might buy it and play it, but will quickly discard the game and move on to something else; however if a game is truly good, people who buy it will continue to play it for a long time frame, and try to get their friends to play the game as well, which brings in more players to that game. When a good game like this is released, it will generally take players for an older, but also good game, another sign that it is doing well.

Looking at World of Warcraft’s numbers, it’s difficult to argue against its success. Blizzard currently has around 11.5 million subscribers for World of Warcraft, and that’s only part of their player base, as they have a lot of other games that people play in lieu of WoW. And yes I understand that there may be other games with large player bases out there for console or another, but you also have to consider the monthly fee related to playing World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft’s astounding numbers dwarf the rest of the MMO market, and are comparable to the table-top RPG Dungeons and Dragons, both of which hold, or have held over 50% of business in their respectable markets (WoW’s is at about 62% currently). The next largest is Runescape at 7.5%, which in large part can be attributed to its ability to be played for free. In my presentation I also brought up how in America, World of Warcraft consumes 27.5 hours of American’s time each week, the third highest behind TV and work! Quick note: this includes all Americans, not just those who play the game. That’s a tremendous amount of time spent on one thing, which shows how immersive and captivating, as well as entertaining it is.

If how much money a game makes is a factor, then WoW should probably at the top of your canon, as it makes $800 million annually, from just Europe and North America, which isn’t even half of their player base. Upon Warcraft’s success there is no denying; it is by far one of the most popular games on the planet.

There is a reason for this great success though; simply put, World of Warcraft has just done it better. What have they done better? Pretty much everything that pertains to MMORPG’s at this time. At the time of its release, Blizzard had succeeded in creating a game that was graphically, structurally, mechanically and aesthetically better than any other game on the market. Yes I realize that this is an opinion and can be argued against, but as I’ve already said, if that wasn’t the case, it wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is today; if there had been a better one, everyone would have played that. After its release however, Blizzard was very proactive in its attempts to improve upon their game, with updates to game mechanics, balancing of the game itself, and most importantly, new, enjoyable content. Blizzard did an excellent job of releasing challenging content that wasn’t too difficult, while at the same time constantly working on newer content to keep players interested. As a result, players stuck around for much longer periods of time than console gaming, allowing the player base to grow larger and larger. Blizzard also has been the only game to quickly and successfully release expansion packs; each one has been released roughly two years after its precursor (in comparison, Everquest II was not released until 5 years after the original Everquest). These expansion sets allowed for the release of a much larger amount of content, as well as changes to game mechanics that keep the game fresh for players.

Now that World of Warcraft has become so popular, they have done what is arguably the most important part of their success, they’ve kept people playing. Blizzard has made many improvements to its game to help make it friendlier to the casual gamer; some of those improvements include the queuing systems for doing instances and battlegrounds, as well as the ability to obtain good quality gear without playing with large groups of people. This means that players who can’t play often, or do not want to invest hours upon hours of time into the game, can still play and enjoy and improve their avatars. In addition to this, Blizzard has become so successful, that many other games of the same genre have modeled their games to be similar to WoW’s and have copied many of their ideas. Aion, an NCsoft game, used a type of currency very similar to WoW’s honor system, and that’s only one of a long list of examples.

The success and tenure of this game have helped to create a very significant game and player culture that has had noticeable effects on MMO’s. First off, there have been many gamer terms coined in this game and games like it; things like LFG (looking for group), FTW (for the win) and even IMO (In my Opinion). I’m sure you could think of countless terms that apply, and many that were not coined by WoW, however, WoW popularized many of them. Larger than that, there are huge communities for World of Warcraft, endless forums on the game, and many informational guides and funny videos related to the game. One of the most notable may in fact be the Leeroy Jenkins Video, but there are many others. For those who think it’s relevant (which I really don’t understand) typing World of Warcraft will get you 112,000,000 hits, and typing it into youtube will get you 276,000 videos.

In conclusion, World of Warcraft has earned its place in the canon from its shear dominance over its genre. It is one of the most successful games ever released, earning a 9.5 on gamespot, and a long string of 8.5’s, 9’s, A’s, 4/5’s and many other high ratings. Overall, this game deserves canonization for its domination, innovation, and prevalence. When you hear MMORPG, WoW is going to be one of the first games that comes to mind; it’s popular, it’s fun, and it’s raised the bar for MMORPG’s

Image Credits: 

Images are Screen shots by Allan Meyer

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